This blog was written by an in-house contributor.
No matter what life throws your way, with strength, resilience and courage can come success and happiness. Martin Vogel, a Paralympian and World Champion wheelchair athlete, is living proof of this.
As a young man, Martin competitively raced motorcycles. One day he was involved in a practice accident that altered his life forever - a broken back that resulted in him being paralyzed from the chest down. Most people would give up, but Martin did not let that stop him. His passion for life and racing was too strong for that. He discovered wheelchair racing and was determined to be the best of the best. 400 races, 100-plus marathons, and 17 World Championships later, Martin proves that with the right mindset, you can thrive, even with seemingly insurmountable circumstances.
“Life is beautiful if you make it beautiful. It’s been 37 years in a wheelchair for me and I’m happy,” Martin says. “I love life and I’m here to show people that it’s up to them. Life is literally in your hands. If you want something, you can have it, it just depends how much you want it.”
It turns out, that Martin also wanted Flex Seal products to help him achieve his goals. He found innovative ways to use Flex Tape to modify his racing wheelchair and equipment to be ready for each race.
“Flex Seal products have definitely made my life easier,” Martin says. “They’re good products that work and save me a ton of time. They’re also super strong, like me!”
Read on to learn more about Martin’s story and how he uses Flex Seal products to improve his racing experience.
Martin has loved motorcycles since he can remember.
“I was always into racing,” he says. “The street that I grew up on was full of motorcycle racers, so I guess I was kind of born into it. I started riding when I was 5 years old and racing when I was 8.”
But at the age of 21, everything changed.
“I was road racing motorcycles and practicing up in Sonoma, California,” Martin recalls. “One day I was in a practice accident with another racer and thrown from my bike. I ended up getting the worst of it and breaking my back.”
Although this devastating accident would leave him paralyzed from the chest down, his positive attitude and tenacity have helped him defy the odds and find a new purpose in life.
“After my coma, I came back determined with a new mission for my life,” he says. “I set a record in rehab after my accident. Doctors told me it would take 6 months of rehabilitation to be released, but I was out of there in 7 weeks.”
Vogel doing what he loves. Photo courtesy of Martin Vogel.
From there, Martin was introduced to the world of wheelchair racing by chance, getting an unexpected phone call from a champion in the sport, Jim Knaub.
“Jim Knaub called and said he heard about my accident and wanted to meet me,” he explains.
The two met a few days later and shortly after, Knaub gave Martin a racing wheelchair and began training him. A mere week after training with Knaub and only two months after being released from the hospital, Martin competed in the LA Marathon.
“From that moment on, I was hooked,” he says, smiling.
Since then, he’s competed in hundreds of races and marathons and has won several World Championships.
Some of Martin’s Racing Medals. Photo courtesy of Martin Vogel.
No matter the obstacle, Martin will look for a solution.
“One of the biggest challenges when it comes to wheelchair racing that catches people off guard is dealing with rain or moisture,” he explains. “It’s very difficult to keep your grip on the handrails when your equipment is wet.”
After seeing a commercial for Flex Tape, I was super excited to give it a try,” he shares. “I applied it to my handrails and wheelchair racing gloves, and it just worked; I couldn’t believe it!”
“I needed something that would help me grip in the rain and once I heard about Flex Tape, I was super excited to give it a try,” he shares. “I applied it to my handrails and wheelchair racing gloves, and it just worked; I couldn’t believe it!”
Vogel’s wheel rails, glove, and helmet wrapped in Flex Tape. Photo courtesy of Martin Vogel.
In addition to keeping his grip strong through the rain, Flex Tape has also saved him a lot of time.
“There are other products that I’ve used in the past, but they wore out quickly and would take hours to put on,” he says. “I’d typically spend about a half a day just to apply them. The Flex Tape is super durable and only takes me a few minutes to cover all of my gear.”
Martin also uses Flex Tape for other fixes, including his racing helmet.
“The foam at the front of my helmet would move around when I’d get sweaty and over time it started to deteriorate. After adding some Flex Tape, it stays comfortably in place and looks brand new,” he says.
Martin is an inspiration to us at Flex Seal, and we’re glad our products have helped him along his inspiring journey.
How are YOU starting the year Flex Strong? Share your testimonial with us for a chance to be featured. You can submit your story through social media using the hashtag #StartFlexStrong. We can’t wait to hear your Flex Success Stories!
By Paula Falcon
Paula is an Associate Editor at The Flex Seal Family of Products, where she focuses on writing and editing articles for the company’s blog.